tv Christian Science Monitor Breakfast with Michael Mc Caul CSPAN May 24, 2015 4:05pm-7:01pm EDT
ond based on the intel. what may take place? sheriff clarke: right, and part of that response needs to be the preplanning, pre-staging pre-marshaling of resources, when you have that many individuals coming together. you cannot just have a handful of officers. because you don't have to wait -- you can't have time to wait to calling resources. planning is huge. judge poe: no matter what the situation is, whether a big event or small event, police planning and response so that the rule of law is followed, no matter the circumstances, is a good idea for policing, is it not? sheriff clarke: it is critical yes. judge poe: ok. how many officers were killed in the line of duty last year? sheriff clarke: last year, they added 238 names to the wall here at the national. some of those were previous years, though.
and i do know that it's up nearly 90% so far in the first quarter of this year. around 54 officers killed in the line of duty. the exact total i don't have. judge poe: i have more questions and i will submit them in writing. thank you. chairman: the gentlelady from texas has a unanimous consent motion. representative jackson lee: may
i just say one or two points, mr. chairman? first of all, let me ask to have unanimous consent to enter into the record the following documents and statement from the aclu, statement of the national urban league, executive order 136 88 which provides federal standards for acquisition of military equipment, a letter from mr. scott and colin requesting a hearing -- for myself, i'm sorry. for mr. scott and mr. cohen. and an article entitled, law enforcement warrior problem to be added into the record. chairman: without objection. rep. jackson lee: and if i might make one simple comment. that is i want to express to all of you, the significance of your testimony. that the judiciary committee through our chairman and ranking member, are very serious about coming forward in this. of recognizing the pain of an officer's death, and the pain of a civilian's confusion in apprehension about police and maybe even their death. i frankly believe we can find a
common ground. i hope you will allow us to inquire, i hope you will make yourself resources as we go forward to address a mother's pain, and as well find that even place. -- i end my remarks by quoting a philosopher. treat people as if they were what they should be, and you help them become what they are capable of being. i justice said, if you are to keep democracy, there must be one commandment, and, sheriff clarke, i think this is what you are speaking of. thou shall not ration justice. everyone deserves justice. and we do not deny your officers justice and we have to let the civilian population, no matter who they are, know that they will get justice. that is what this committee's purpose is. and i hope we will have more
provocative hearings, maybe those who have lost loved ones maybe the young people who are raising the signs because of their passion of black lives matter, all lives matter, hands up don't shoot, and, as well, i can't breeze -- breathe. let's give all of those people dignity. this hearing is want to give all of us, including all the men and women you represent. i yield back. chairman the gentlelady yields : back. i want to thank our panel of witnesses for your expertise for your experience, life experience, your perspective and collegiality with one another and the members of the committee. i could not help but think while judge poe was talking, and mr. jeffries that we are all in part beneficiary but also part prisoner of our own background. our own experience.
prosecutors may not have the benefit of the judicial view like judge poe. or what cedric described growing up is something i would not have experienced growing up so i think it is a good idea for us to the extent we can, to rely upon the experiences of other people, well-intentioned people. and there are a lot of issues raised, all of which are important. the issue i hope we can have another committee hearing on, at some point, and i think, mr. jeffries, you touched upon it, that the failure to cooperate on that end impacts the prosecution of police officers who have done wrong. i saw the failure to cooperate in the faces of moms and dads who were trying to get justice for their murdered young people for those other witnesses who would not cooperate, so i think we all want a justice system that is respected, in fact we have to have a justice system that is respected or we will not make it. so i hope this is the first of many hearings.
and, again on behalf of all the , other members, we want to thank you for your participation. this concludes today's hearing. without objection, all members has five legislative days to submitted additional questions or materials for the record, thank you very much. we are adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
announcer: during this first year of the 114th congress c-span has been getting to know some of its members. we continue on memorial day with four new members including mike bost, lee zeldin, bonnie watson and mark takai. >> you have this picture. >> my parents bought it at a democratic auction. >> tell us about the people. >> there is a congressman from hawaii, and then on the right another senator from hawaii. >> a state senator? a u.s. senator.
>> members of the congressional delegation. congressman takai i talk what it is like being here representing: hawaii, and i have many stories about them, but i talk about them being on the shoulders of people like them, and you know it because we all work here, but the halls of congress, especially capitol hill, is a very different place at night all of the tour groups are gone, and i heard stories that senator annoy -- inouye talking. as a senate president pro tem in the capital and it is a surreal experience to be walking through the halls and just seeing your -- you're your footsteps, realizing the people that came before me also recognize the
state of hawaii. announcer: our profile of congressional freshman continues tomorrow here on span at 9:00 p.m. to -- announcer: next weekend, we are live in new york city for the publishing industry showcase of their upcoming books. at the beginning of june, we are live with a three-hour live in depth program. watch for the annual roosevelt reading festival for the presidential library. in the middle of july, we are live at the harlem book fair, the flagship african-american literary event with all of their panel discussions, and at the beginning of september the are live from the nation's capital for the national book festival
>> ok, folks. we will have people joining us and we will get going on schedule. i am dave cook from the christian science monitor. our guest today is chairman of the house of home security committee. this is his first visit with one of our little meetings here and we appreciate his coming very much. our guest is a dallas native who is from san antonio, a bachelors degree at trinity university and a law degree at st. mary's university to work as a federal prosecutor from 1990 to 1999 and moved to austin to become a deputy to then texas attorney general john cornyn. later, our guest joins the was attorney's office and was chief of the terrorism and national security division for west texas. in 2004, he was elected to the house and became chairman of the house homeland security commission in 2013. he and his wife linda are the
parents of five children. thus ends the biographical portion of the program and onto the riveting mechanical details. first, thanks to our underwriter. northrop grumman. as always, we are on the record, please, no live blogging or tweeting. in short no filing of any kind while breakfast is underway to give us time to listen to what our guest says. there is no embargo when the session ends. to help you curb that relentless selfie urge, we will e-mail several pictures of the session to all reporters here as soon as the breakfast inns -- ends. as regular attendees know, if you would like to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a subtle nonthreatening signal and i will happily call on as many reporters as he can in the time we have this morning. we will start off by offering our guest the opportunity to make opening comments and we will move to questions around the table. with that, thank you for doing this. thank you for braving the rain. we appreciate it. >> thank you.
>> thank you to you for hosting this. i just got back from the middle east and europe and we all came back with a strange and mysterious cough. i hope it's not a disease or contagious. from the press standpoint, but i think we will be ok. david mentioned i have five teenagers at home. at first, all the guys in new york know i am from texas and they asked about my kids and they said, teenagers, we have had a couple of those. the difference between a teenager and a terrorist? you can negotiate with the terrorists. [laughter] i come to washington for peace and quiet at times. it is a good training experience at home and in washington. i will not talk long with a dialogue but i think the threat
environment has never been -- since 9/11, the fighters we investigated going over to the middle east and into europe for -- where these spiders go to, but also over the internet. you have all read about the imminent threat to military installations and much of that is internet driven. by individuals in syria and elsewhere through twitter accounts to activate followers in the united states. that threat along with refugees is a serious concern of ours protecting the homeland. of course, finally, the complete disaster in iraq with the prime minister of iraq. the last week before ramadi felt and ideas of bringing shia
militias in to fight the war against isis really goes against the grain over there and inflames sunni tribes. it inflames and i don't see how you can critically unify the country with that kind of military strategy. i think we are failing here, losing ground. i think ramadi is a good example of that and i often tell people back home and say, why is it so important? it's because it is a safe haven and a base of operation from which they can breed terrorism and get extra operations against the united states, so that is so important. not to mention the fact that so
many of my constituents have lost their sons and daughters and they are in conflict, gold star mothers want it to count for something. and i think many things created isis but to the resurgence which is now modern-day isis. with that, i throw that out as an opening sort of szabo for a good discussion. dave: sounds good. i will do one or two and we'll go to martin, brian, sarah, todd gillman, called, and aaron kelly to start. i want to ask you how consequential you think it will be to homeland security if the nsa bulk data collection expires maybe for brief time during the congressional recess? you said yesterday with ap saying it is a dangerous thing to do, why is it dangerous? are there workarounds in the short term?
mr. mccaul: that is our hope that with that congressional action it expires and that creates a danger to the american people. i am a little disappointed that i cannot work this out. we passed the bill and now the house is threatened between security and privacy. when i was in -- when i was applying for the fbi, it cannot be done. the metadata is more accessible, yes. i think it can be done the way we used to do it and could still be affected. -- effective, and i think the political reality is we could pass the ball collection of metadata, and i think what you're seeing and the senate is a filibuster, which is very predictable.
i think a better approach would have been to pass what we passed out of the house. mr. cook. one other for me on ramadi. obviously, you talked earlier about the disaster or complete disaster in iraq. from homeland security purposes, why does it matter if ramadi falls? that ramadi fell? is the way i should have said it. mr. mccaul: what we are seeing is a phenomenon of not only governance, but they are sophisticated over the internet. more failed states is what the rack is becoming. we left iraq and i think we won. we left a secure nation, but the
lacking agreement, coupled with maliki's disenfranchisement of these sunni tribes created isis, and that affects the homeland, because people would say that there were a lot. and it is not just syria and iraq. it is libya. it is all throughout northern africa. it is going into asia, as well. everywhere where we see power vacuums, and this is why they will tell you this is more than they have seen in some time, the fact that they have more safe haven's to operate out of and when they have that, there are opportunities to conduct operations, not unlike the group in syria, which we know is intent on developing nonmetallic ied explosives to get on
airplanes for the united states. now, i think we took out one area with an airstrike. i think the demise was a positive development, and we need more. we need to develop special thanks. we need more of that. the problem is that iraqi national army is not the army we had four years ago. not the one we trained, they are a brand-new army and they have demonstrated that they are completely incapable of defending iraq. they dropped their weapons in mosul. they dropped their weapons in ramadi, and now, sadly for us, they have taken over another city with the greatest antiquities in iraq that they will destroy and sell on the open market for many. i think abu is important because he was the cfo of isis and
controlled the energy and oil supply. the data we got from them i hope will be helpful to expose their networks, but from a financing standpoint, those kinds of networks inside of syria and outside that we can exploit. mr. cook: we had adam schiff p earlier in the week, and he said kudos to our special forces, but concerns about whether it was worth -- worth the risk, especially a risk if it failed. that is not a view you share, i take it? mr. mccaul: i respect him a lot and he is a good friend, but i think just like the takedown of bin laden, that was worthwhile. i think we can take down the isis leader like abu, it is critically important. you are taking down a lot of
expertise. you get rid of a lot of expertise. of course, his wife was involved. hostages. a hostage situation. i argue when you take out evil, particularly those at the top that is a worthwhile endeavor, and i think we need to do more of that to defeat isis. otherwise, people will just wash their hands and walk away from the situation. mr. cook: first, we will go to martin from the hill. martin: earlier this year at a hearing, you express concern about the state department efforts, saying it was possibly creating a federally funded jihadi pipeline into the u.s. i was wondering if you could give an update of sorts, have you talk more to the administration? have you concerns about the
satisfied, allayed, or are you concerned still? mr. mccaul: i came back from the trip from the middle east and our european counterparts are absorbing thousands of syrian refugees on a monthly basis going into whether it is italy or up through amsterdam they are absorbing these refugees on a daily basis. i don't know how you can absorb that number. they normally go to the dais poor communities. and integrating with the european societies, it causes -- it is a threat to them, and they know that. i will get into the foreign travel. they do not screen their own citizens, which is a huge vulnerability for the europeans and the airport does not screen outbound.
they did not screen at all a year ago, because they were -- did not want assad going through turkey. they changed the course of action, the question that you are posing is did syrian refugees enter the united states? how safe is that proposition? if it is just mothers and children -- i have seen what it looks like, and there are a lot of mothers and kids, but there are a lot of males that conduct terrorist operations and that concerns me. the problem i have is that the assistant director of the fbi testified before our committee that we don't have databases on these, so we can't properly fit -- that -- vet them
in past databases to know who they are, to know where they came from, to know what that they pose because we don't have the data to cross-reference them. the fbi has warned strongly against this move, as has homeland security privately. in there is john carey, and the fbi saying this is a really bad idea from a security standpoint. we even had two iraqis come with all of the intelligence, came in , making bombs to kill our guys as posing a threat to the united states when they came in. within syria, so we do not have an intelligence footprint and capability, we have lowered the bar, so i think bringing them in is a serious mistake. we brought in 700 of them already. we are slated to bring in more by the end of the year, and the
numbers will take up, so there are many communities in the united states -- i am not trying to be an alarmist about this. dave: you want to do a follow-up and they go to brian? mr. mccaul: unless i have assurance about these people when i questioned carry on foreign affairs, he said there is a process but they want to ask fbi what the super buddy -- vetting process there isn't any. we do not have the databases on them, so with the biometrics and databases to assure we can safely bring them in i do not think that is what the american people want. and europe has a real problem on their hands right now. dave: --
ryan from "the l.a. times." brian: i would go back to the expired provisions of the patriot act. in addition, the other business records they are collecting. those are all set to expire. can you talk what the impacts if those are allowed to expire? mr. mccaul: the surpassed after nine/11. i think i may be one of the few members that actually prosecuted in process and the patriot act. the role of the wiretap is absolutely essential. with the twitter accounts, where they will drop their twitter account and open up a new one, it is the same thing with bones. they would just drop disposable
ones and get a new one, so this roaming wiretap targets the individual and not the communication device. i asked about applying that to the more imminent threat we are seeing coming out of syria over twitter accounts, in terms of if they drop a twitter account can we still keep our coverage of on the individual, and part of the problem is identifying opening up a new twitter account and i would argue the role of the wiretap would apply to that, and there is a gap in time where you have to identify the same person. and if i can expand, i think one of the greatest concerns is what is called going dark, and this is a phenomenon. what they do, and the very start, what they will do is they will communicate. there are followers in following.
trying to radicalize, trying to convert, etc., and they will say let's go to the message box. well, they get to the message box, and unless we have coverage we lose that communication, but even if we do have coverage, like say otherwise, then they can go into other platforms that are very temporary platforms that go up and what we called going dark. once they go outside that box into other platforms, even if they are under our coverage, we can not get that to medication anymore, and it is one of the most serious concerns within the communities. they have the ability now to communicate, what we call secure,, in dark space without us being able to monitor those
indications. that may take legislation to fix. there is some controversy to it all, but a lot would argue -- i was talking to someone the other day. the threat is one of our biggest concerns. we cannot track the communications of these individuals who are radicalizing . the foreign fighters traveling across the ocean, the airports and all of that, and if you have got some of you can activate in the united states over the internet, then that is what we call terrorism gone viral. dave: kate from buzz feed. kate: you mentioned republican leaders in the house come up with a deal before this recess. the house is leaving today. dave: a little louder for the hearing impaired.
kate: sorry, is there any possibility of short-term extension could be approved as you see or has leadership said no to that and what the consequences of a short-term? mr. mccaul: i cannot speak for the leadership. we did our business. we were warned this could happen. and the worst thing for congress to do is to play politics and let this thing expire. to go dark on our national security is the most dangerous thing we can do. i think it would be highly irresponsible, so what are the alternatives? you have got that window between the time we come back on what, june 1 and so at least, you know, extend that, but i do not know what the impact of the filibuster will have either.
and the president would sign it. that is the thing. i do not know if what mcconnell is doing, i do not know if they will veto that, so to me, from the governance standpoint, the best thing to do is pass with the house did and send it to the white house, and, yes, it is not perfect, but it will continue to protect americans. right now, i hate it when we sent messages to the terrorists that we are going to be vulnerable. date: we go to the dallas morning news. reporter: i have a few questions about the attack in garland, which i guess is if you crises ago now and we have had kind of conflicting reports about whether there was a breakdown into indication between the fbi and local authorities. can you quantify whether there
was a breakdown, whether the threat was conveyed properly, and i am also wondering, so these guys were isis inspired. greenwich range? were they activated by isis questionnaire were they just vulnerable types? mr. mccaul: a demonstration of what i am talking about on the internet they were isis inspired over the internet. a guy had a facebook page. there is the twitter account and he had the #about texas and for a variety of reasons i cannot go into, he got back on the radar by the fbi. he has left his residence in phoenix. and this is where law enforcement actually works. homeland security, fbi about the
cartoon contest. to all of law enforcement, saying you have to keep a lookout. clearly, this kind of activity will provoke a response, so there was notice that these individuals -- it is missing and then that information was sent to the task force in dallas about him specifically. that information, being critical of the fbi and the boston bombing and the sharing of information. in this case, the fbi did its job, and they properly shared that information with the police. i understand what you are referencing two. the further communication would be on the part of the local. reporter: we were never informed
about this. mr. mccaul: but the police and the task force were advised of the stairs simpson. todd: are there any lessons to be learned from that event or is it one of those things that just got away? a lot of people acknowledge that but are there lessons to be to be drawn from this? mr. mccaul: with the shooting spree, they were automatically taken down by the swat team. if there is any breakdown it is typically that the fbi did not share information with the locals. well, in this case, the fbi did. the local shared it with their counterparts. the system works well when it works. it works very well. sometimes you have breakdowns.
and i would not say breakdown in that case, but if there was any, it was on the part of the local not sharing. todd: is there any reason to think that these guys were activated, ordered to do this, or was it just health inspired? mr. mccaul: it is a matter of semantics. what they are trying to do is have this with calls to arms over the internet. so they have followers on twitter, those they are actively communicating with. this is the way of terrorism now, where they would just send out a direct link and hope that out of the 1000 people with the twitter accounts, we're going to get a couple. someone to say, i will sign up for that. date: we are about halfway through. our next guest.
reporter: chairman, thank you very much. with the prime minister and iraq, where they acknowledging how bad the situation there was? obviously, they are very defensive about giving assistance to the kurds, giving assistance to the sunni tribes. with a asking for more time? what was his response? mr. mccaul: he is a shia, and he asked for more assistance, and in my opinion, he was not given that, and he had an issue with that. and with our state department, they were against the idea of bypassing that and funding or arming the peshmerga or sunni tribes because they thought
those were around baghdad and therefore undermines the central government and therefore undermines the unity of government, and then there are the kurds and the sunni states. that was the state line and the prime minister's line. and there is a little different version of the story, where they would like to see more funding. with the kurds and the peshmerga are and the kurdistan prime minister or president, they want -- what they see is not getting to the peshmerga, to the kurds or to the sunni tribes, rather than getting diverted to the shia militias, and from their perspective i do not know if it
is accurate, they see the prime minister as a proxy of the shia militia, and shia militias are a proxy of iran. it is a fact they will be seen the communities that will be completely inflamed and disenfranchised with the sunni tribes, which is very contrary to what we did where we would bring these tribes over 25 al qaeda in iraq. right now, the strategy is not working that way. in fact, bringing in the shia militias is indirect contradiction to that, and it is pushing them away. just two days ago since the awakening, with the shia militias there they are either staying out of the fight or will serve better than isis. i see that as a real political disaster. there is a political diplomatic peace to this, and a failure of
iraq's leadership, but when asking that question, another said they do not have a choice. a force that can defeat isis now. reporter: are they capable of defeating isis now? mr. mccaul: out of necessity, they have to bring in the shia. they are not fortifying them as much as they should. there is a greater issue here, and i think our guys have to be embedded with the iraqi national army. but they have a responsibility and a role in their backyard. they will not go into syria or a rack to fight isis as long as they know they are helping a
thought in the process, so as long as a thought is sitting there -- i mean, look at yemen, right? you have got thank you ap -- you have got the sunni -- they are al qaeda, but they are sunni. and then we have problems all of a sudden. and so there is safe exile for mr. assad and i do not think we will ever get the arab league of nations -- which we could turkey, egypt, sally, they could put a force in there, but they will never commit to that. -- saudi, they could put a force in there, but taking him out. dave: the washington examiner. reporter: to the electric grids with the legislation in the house, talking about backing up
the system with transformers and expensive kind of process. do you think the grid is threatened in any way, and if so, what should be done? mr. mccaul: anything tied to the internet is vulnerable. the only way to be completely safe is to disconnect yourself from the internet, and ciber is an ever evolving threat, and we have to stay in front of it to protect our critical infrastructure. it passed with 355 votes on the floor. overwhelming bipartisan support. the president would sign it into law. essentially, what it does is there is the lead civilian portal to share malicious code
information, and with the private sector they can share with the government, but also across private private sector lines. only if you do that can you patch your networks and have the keys to lock the door so they cannot get in. that is not happening right now and in particular, the countries i have talked to love this, but the only way they can make this happen is to provide liability protection, so they are not incentivizing. if they do not know they will be protected by a lawsuit for sharing that information. so we provide that. it has broad-based support in the tech industry, and the private sector as a whole, and also the civilian interface with the military interface and we
think it is the right place for this information sharing. if they cannot process you, they cannot spy on you. doing outreach to state, local, private sector critical infrastructure. we can go a long way to helping protect. our financial institutions are under attack from iran. every day, russia and china are hitting us every day. it happens on a monthly basis. cyber warfare is a serious concern. we can shut things down like the power grid if we cannot get ahead of it. the cyber jihadists are trying to get this. they do not have a capability, but they sure have the intent you want to do it. they just do not have the capability right now.
dave: aaron kelly from usa today. reporter: is this something you want to see come to the floor? mr. mccaul: i still want to go to the floor. the criticisms, my committee was comprised of a political compromise 10 years ago, so even though isis -- the judiciary committee has control of that. judiciary now has marked up and passed out there interior enforcement will, and we had these discussions. we think now is that he's done and with another part out of the way, because that was reading some problems for us, as well,
the bogeyman, so to speak, is not in the room anymore so i think it is time. i know the number one issue is when i go home is with border security, and they use homeland security to get it done, and so i see a right opportunity. i talked to the speaker about it and official leadership, trying to get members to get kind of a movement, if you will, to at least start the process, when now that we have interior enforcement, let's put the security bill on the floor. and get that passed out of the house. dave: we go to -- reporter: some of you may know the fort worth star-telegram. so i have texas questions.
i wanted to follow-up little bit on border security to see what senator sessions, who was one of your problems last time on this, if he is in agreement. i know he is in the other chamber, but since this is my one shot, i want to ask you about the five texans running for president and if you are supporting any of them. mr. mccaul: we have five now? reporter: jeb bush and carly fiorina. mr. mccaul: well, i will take the first question. reporter: near the airport, he runs the christian movie studio or something.
>> [indiscernible] mr. mccaul: i am feeling left out. so, first of all, i explained to him i did not have jurisdiction. what was in my bill and what was not in my bill. i explained to him the rest of my bill was judiciary's jurisdiction, and i explained jurisdiction to him and i hope he understands that now. and i would think that we would resolve the issues that he had with the bill, but people want this done. they just want it done, and
every day i have got members on the floor coming up to me and saying when are we going to get that done on the floor, and you think it would be a very easy thing to do, but, you know, people raise all sorts of issues about it. well, it is a first step, or this or that. a possible security problem. so it is not an immigration bill. my bill is a security bill. first and foremost, it is to protect americans from the threats that i see, and that is why i have always been adamant about it. the jurisdiction even back then. terrorists are always on the road. we are worried about that. there are a lot of bad elements coming in, and drug cartels, ms 13, a lot of bad actors, and a lot of people down there, not just people coming to work
anymore, they are more on the violent side, from what the ranchers tell me. it is way too early. we do not know who is going to be in the race. i will tell you what i would like to see. someone who can unite our party and not divide it. a lot of us are tired of the division going on. i like more of a reagan type person to bring the party together and the country and not be a polarizing, divisive character, and i would also say someone who has some experience, you know, somebody who is got some experience. the number one issue of the day is our national security foreign policy, and i think that is what to do the issue that is going to be front and center with hillary clinton, who will basically tout her credentials
as the foreign-policy expert and if we do not have a guy who has got experience in foreign policy or national security, how can we possibly take her out with any credibility? dave: the monitor. reporter: in iraq, and perhaps even forward operating bases near the syrian border so we can centrists into syria, and so you have become a student of this war, given your expertise on this committee, so i would love for you to paint a picture of that. we have been at this war for 10 years. should be another 10 years. should be as long as it takes to get this done because it is such a priority? how much, as the pentagon likes to say, in blood and treasure do we want to expand? and the exercise that was last month, where -- yes, the governor was worried about it.
those troops. mr. mccaul: that is a great question. i think there is an isolationist movement, even within my party prior to isis cutting heads off. i mean, if they had not be headed to the american journalists and woken up the american people, i am not sure that the american people would be paying attention, but i think that is the demise. it is hard to sit back and watch an evil force like that grow. they are intent on killing jews christians, the last americans cutting heads off, pilots on fire. that type of vogue arisen, and then the potential for plots. it cannot be allowed to fester
on its own. i am not isolationist. every time we have done that as a nation, we have gotten into trouble. and world war ii is an example. i think churchill was right and chamberlin was wrong. a policy of appeasement. whether it is putin as well, in ukraine. it is a mess. and the questions asked, would you have done anything different had you known back then what you knew today, and i think the right question is would you have pulled out precipitously and not negotiate a forces agreement if you knew then what you know today, and by doing that, we have agreements in germany japan, korea after our conflicts there, and the idea we did not have that in iraq was, i think, irresponsible, so i would answer
that question, yes we should not have done that. had we had a residual force in iraq i do not think we would be talking about this. we would not be dealing with the threat of isis. we beat al qaeda in iraq. and all of the constituents that were sent to eye over there, we beat them, and we left a stable country, and became destabilized because of the lack of engagement, by not engaging maliki. one time, the secretary of state, for three hours in baghdad, that shows you the level of disengagement in iraq, and i think that created isis so -- report: do you think we should stay there another 10 years? is isis such a threat that we should just stay there as long
as it takes? mr. mccaul: they are not some monolithic giant we cannot beat, although they took out ramadi and mosul i think if we came up with a military strategy and a medical one that the political one that was serious about discouraging them and not containing them we would defeat them in short order. we did it with al qaeda in iraq and we can do it with isis. we have a more stable -- the problem is the destabilization of the region not only in the middle east but also northern iraq. countries like saudi, they don't understand the foreign-policy,
there is uncertainty. why are you negotiating with iran? why are you letting the muslim brotherhood takeover egypt? they think it is my decision and it is not. there is no certainty and foreign-policy. with that, there is a lot of confusion, a lot of destabilization going on. and when you have failed states, that destabilize and become power vacuums. like pre-9/11 afghanistan with bin laden, you have a problem. i agree -- that will be a great national debate, probably in the 2016 election. how do we want to be over there -- how engaged do we want to be over there. i do think most americans see isis for what it is -- one of the most evil forms of barbarism we have seen in our lifetime. mr. cook: i'm sorry -- >> did you talk to the pentagon? rep. mccaul: i am a big supporter of our united states military. [laughter] >> what does that mean? what does that mean?
i am a big supporter of the military. rep. mccaul: our united states military is not our threat, isis is our threat. and iran is the threat. >> senator cornyn, your former colleague, proposed a deal basically where it would be transitioned more slowly. the phone companies, the data would go back to the phone companies more slowly over two years, and there would be safeguards built in to ensure that that is working, that law enforcement can still get that data quickly. and perhaps some requirement that the phone companies hold onto data for a surgeon period -- certain period of time.
it sounded like a pretty reasonable offer, given senators ' prior positions. do you think a deal can be reached around that fairly quickly, so if there is any expiration -- rep. mccaul: i think that worked for john for four years. he was always very thoughtful, rational. the adult in the room. i think that proposal is sound. part of the concern i have heard is that you were not giving them enough time to make the transition and retention time for the records, and i think that is a creative proposal that could bring the house and senate together. i just do not know what will happen with the filibuster. and that is an idea that i would support in the house. mr. cook: mr. strauss? talking points memo. >> i wanted to ask you -- jeb bush and all the attention last week to whether we should have gone into iraq or not. i mean, you talked about being
interested in someone who, or supporting a candidate with foreign policy leadership. was the former governor's responses a sign of political acumen on foreign-policy? what did you think of that and what would your answer have been to the question -- if we know now what we didn't know, would you have authorized -- rep. -- authorized -- rep. mccaul: you think you would be prepared for that question, but i would have answered it differently. we are already in. my goal was to make sure that we stabilized and won and then responsibly get out. and left a residual force. mistakes have been made all throughout the conflict. condi rice admitted that the
post invasion of iraq was not handled well. rimmer -- bremmer made a lot of mistakes. all these people wouldn't have joined, because they were thrown out on the street. that created a whole other terrorists, some of whom we are dealing with today indeed isis organization. in the ice is -- in the crisis organization. >> how would you have answered that question? rep. mccaul: the question is you can't change the past. you can learn from it but you can't change it. the question is how do you deal with iraq in the present. i would have had the status of forces agreement. that was a mistake, too. we had bad intelligence. that was a mistake as well. dealing with it today, how are you going to stabilize that region again? can we afford to leave it destabilized?
can we allow isis to flourish? and govern and conduct operations like they are doing right now against the united states. it is going to take one big project and people will say what were you doing in congress to stop that. i would not allow the safe haven to flourish, so how do you deal with it in the present? there are a series of things we could be doing tactically, but we are not being aggressive. whether it is air strikes were you have zero collateral damage, that will -- where you have zero collateral damage, or embedding special operations with the iraqi armed training, arming the peshmerga, trying to get assad so we can galvanize the forces that we know are in our backyard. the saudis don't like isis. we know that qatar and kuwait are funding a lot of the operations, and that is a weird phenomenon.
the gulf states, a lot of money comes out of there. that is a whole other issue. >> we have about three minutes left, sir. >> i just wanted to ask you about major companies, including apple, google, cisco, protesting against some of the recent demands from officials about finding backdoors or ways to access data. where do you stand on this issue, and where do you think that congress will ultimately go? rep. mccaul: it is called dark space. it's what i referenced to earlier. it is a tricky issue and it is controversial on some levels. it is controversial when you talk about iphone encryption and the ability to backdoor into that. where i don't think it is controversial are the platforms that the terrorists used to
communicate andin dark space, and that is primarily these platform servers. i have seen the communications between the terrorists and who they are trying to radicalize. in the united states. what they say is -- let's go into dm, and that is the message box. then they go into that box. those communications, if we don't have coverage, we lose that communication. but if we do have coverage, and in many cases we do, -- but they are smart. and they realized that they get -- they start communicating there, but then they jump into another platform, a mom and pop shop in colorado that have these platforms that we can't get access to, and that is dark space.
so please communicate freely and what is called -- freely in what is called securecom to launch an attack against the united states. there is no way our law enforcement and intelligence communities are completely incapable of picking up those communications -- that is a threat. the foreign fighters are a threat, but i would argue that threat is one of the biggest threats to the homeland. it is what needs to be fixed. the only way it can be fixed is legislatively. mr. cook: i want to thank you for doing this. we appreciate it. we hope you come back. >> thank you for having me. >> thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
people on the scene of the incident in the future would have the ability to have video from the siemens sent to first responders. to have pictures from the scene and data on where everybody is. very not everybody would have the ability to see where ambulances are being staged. you would be able to leverage it for triage. today there is technology, wearable technology in the fitness world. what if that was done for emergency medical services where they will get vital signs. that with devices today but think about the innovation -- not with devices today but think about the innovation. you could tracked them to hospitals and adjust in a rapid fashion. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern
on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> veto congressional directory is a handy -- the new congressional directory is a handy guide. district maps, a foldout map of capitol hill, and a look at congressional committees, the president's cabinet, federal agencies, and state governors. order your copy today. it is $13 90 five cents plus shipping and handling through the c-span store -- $13.95 plus shipping and handling through the c-span store. >> more now on isis. from "washington journal," this is 45 minutes. >> we want to turn attention to isis. on to isis and the gains they have made in iraq and syria.
we welcome colonel derek harvey, retired, the former director of the afghanistan-pakistan center of excellence and currently the director of the global initiative for civil support asks civil society and conflict -- global initiative for civil society and conflict. we are told isis has 50% control of syria. does that number surprise you? guest: no. they have been resourceful and capable and we underestimated their strategy to expand their reach in syria and iraq. host: a former senior cello -- fellow at the state department. some of the negotiations in regards with iran's nuclear program. guest: iran's role complicates this for u.s. policy because of the overlap -- overlapping interest in syria and iraq and the competition between shia and
sunni multiple levels. host: it is important to put into perspective what the new york times piece is writing. it is the front page. the headline is "with two victories, isis dispels the hope of swift to klein -- decline." , they listed a series of setbacks in the city of kobani, battered by heavy airstrikes, forced out of a growing list of towns and cities in iraq. but the islamic state has turned that story around. it solidified its cold -- hold with a carefully carried up assault on ramadi. it stretched its territory into syria. the twin offenses have been a showcase for isis's disciplined
adherence to its corpus of -- core philosophies syria fighting on multiple fronts. enforcing its caliphate in the sunni heartland. your reaction? guest: what i would say is that we have overestimated the islamic state in a number of ways. in the metrics or majors will look at syria ss the advance and capabilities of the islamic state. they have been off. when we placed -- p ushed isis back from kobani and tikrit, they were not defeated, they were pushed back to fight again. host: this is a map from inside the new york times. it almost looks like an octopus. it kind of filters out across
the landscape. guest: most of the land characterized in these maps country of syria, you have to look at your frady's river where the resources and population are and along major corridors. a lot of the land is empty desert. when it says it controls half of syria, he have to focus on what it really means when you talk about their control overpopulation, key terrain mobility quarters, and resources. host: look at this editorial from the wall street journal. the writer says that ramadi's fall undercuts the white house and pentagon's syringes that the war against isis is going well. the reality is the political limitations that the white house has put on military planners allowed isis to hold or retake most of its ground. is that accurate? guest: i think so.
there have been authorities that have not been granted. limits on the number of resources applied to this fight. most importantly, the president's strategy has not been given a chance to succeed because it has been disjointed poorly resourced, and even in washington d.c., the interagency partners supposed to be executing this strategy are not doing it. it is like is this as usual. host: your pc wrote for the wall street journal "the islamic state is winning in iraq" and specifically say the airstrikes are failing. guest: we have a great number of airstrikes, but it is not the number of airstrikes that matter. it is the impact on the enemy's ability to conduct operations at a tactical and operational level. we have not degraded their command and control. we have not undercut their resources. an example: if you look at oil
strikes in syria, the islamic state responded in a sophisticated way to develop thousands of many refineries say replace the losses they had. they are still making millions of dollars. they are responding effectively. host: our guest is derek harvey. what is the global initiative for civil society and conflict? guest: we focus on civil society and issues that relate to that and conflicts, primarily in the middle east and africa. we look at the drivers for individuals and groups that caused social conflict, quite often violent, in places like iraq in syria and nigeria. when we look at these issues, we looked at it more holistically and understand the human terrain, environment, the political environment, and also things that relate to this. government, development, security issues.
host: affiliate with the mercy of south florida. we get to your calls a moment. 202 is area code. (202) 748-8000 for democrats. (202) 748-8001 for republicans. independence, (202) 748-8002. this past week, josh earnest was asked about the isis gains in iraq and syria. [video clip] >> we have seen there are no quick fixes involved. we have seen there have been important progress that has been made as relates to this military operations versus senior iso-officials. but there have been setbacks. the isil effort to take over ramadi is a setback. we have been candid about that. this illustrates how important it is for us to maintain some perspective. we have had other periods of
setbacks followed by progress. there has been extensive discussion on capitol hill and the media about the risk posed by isis wanted to go over kobani. there are cameras trained on that village from turkey filming the day by day effort to take over that village by isil. but because of the effort because of -- because of the effort of the us-led coalition to cooperate with fighters on the ground, isis fighters were driven several miles from that city. that is an indication that while we have certain periods of setback, we also have days of progress. host: the white house press secretary asked about the gains by isis. the atlantic magazine has photographs of refugees leaving ramadi as the isis stronghold continues in that part of the country. this from senator mont --
senator john mccain the next day. [video clip] >> the secretary of state of the united states of america said ramadi was a mere "target of opportunity." have we completely lost -- have we completely lost our sense of any moral caring and concern about thousands and thousands of people who are murdered, made refugees, who are dying as we speak? the secretary of state says that we should not like our hair on fire. what does the president have to say today. he says it is climate change we have to worry about. i am worried about time a change -- about climate change. do we give a damn about what is happening on the streets of ramadi and innocent people who
are dying and being executed and their bodies burned in the street? host: colonel harvey, that is where it -- that is how it played out this past week. you can see the area ice captured. your reaction. guest: in conflict and war there is an up and down process. you will have setbacks. we have to look at the overall trends. they are concerning. as i wrote in my article in the wall street journal, there has not been any little progress since last fall. kobani is a peripheral action. baghdad has held the line a while, but with ramadi and their operations and other areas of iraq and the advances in syria it should be clear to anyone watching that the momentum and the progress is on the side of the islamic state. host: in the wall street journal piece available on wsj.com you
say the iraqi government needs more military assistance. does that mean more troops on the ground, airstrikes? guest: when we look at this situation -- i will give you an example. iraqi soldiers fighting in ramadi were overmatched. they were outgunned. they have been under pressure for well over a year and that area. they were bled and exhausted. iraqi soldiers are fighting well in a large number of areas. let's get past the collapse of last summer and early fall. if we are to stabilize the situation, they have to fight on equal terms in these areas. i believe the government authorized some 2000 anti-take -- tank weapons, which would
have allowed them to stop vehicle bombs which were devastating. on a broader scale, we need to lebanon to the iran-iraq border. they directed the employment of like the soft operation versus abu-salha -- babu sayyaf. one rate is not enough. airing the iraq search, there were up to 10 rates which led to further rates to go against al qaeda in europe. special operations forces should be unleashed in this fight in iraq today. you need to take pressure off iraq by creating a problem for the islamic state in syria. there is no strategy to go after this ensuring the islamic state
has in syria. they have freedom of movement and action despite the air campaign. they need more command and control and enablers, which is what some presidential candidates have talked about. senator lindsey graham talks about an increase of about 10,000. that would be command and control, intelligence, aviation. but not soldiers to fight street to street in ramadi like we saw in 2006 to 2008. host: we are talking with retired colonel derek harvey now the director of the global initiative for it civil society and conflict at the university of south florida. mark is up first from south florida. caller: good morning. colonel harvey, we have been in iraq since 2003. we are still there, still have troops there. nothing has really changed in
all these years. why did we even invade this place? guest: i do not think we need to go over the invasion and decisions about either blaming the invasion in 2003 or another view, which is claiming president obama and demonstration for pulling out precipitously in 2011. after there had been relative calm and success, but the job was not finished. if you want to place blame, you could go before this and say why did the consider ministration not finish the job with al qaeda and osama bin laden during his administration? there were other opportunities. bush one could have conducted the campaign better to topple saddam in 1991. you could go further back. it is not about blame. it is where we are today and u.s. national interest. i think we have an interest on a
strong, independent iraq. we have an interest in not having an islamic state dominate syria and iraq and continue to expand in de-stabilize saudi arabia, north africa, and expand into other parts of the world as we see them doing now. this is a threat to the homeland of the u.s., destabilize the region, have an impact on oil and economy. as senator mccain said, there is a humanitarian aspect. there have been 300,000 civilians killed in syria. this is a brutal regime of her epic proportion's. i think the american people have been -- we had the responsibility to assist and bolster the people in the region that need leadership to help them address this dangerous
area. host: larry is next from massachusetts. republican line. caller: i want to remind all americans. the reason why isis has taken up -- we gave the iraqi army all kind of training. army vehicles. the reason why isis has taken up is because these soldiers ran like cowards. i do not think -- we have trained them. give them arms. everything so they can defeat isis. i do not agree we should spend more time in iraq. guest: i understand that perspective, but with some more information about what
transpired, it makes a difference. the army left there by the united states trainers and our presence is not the one that collapsed last year. unfortunately, the prime minister and his party aggressively undermined the professionalism and leadership of the iraqi security forces. if you were a professional officer, whether a kurd, sunni or shiite, and you are not a political hack of the regime you were purged. then you had corruption by the sectarian-driven prime minister's regime. stealing money. diverting resources. we had a problem with ghost soldiers. soldiers on payroll but they are not there. these leaders are pocketing the money. it is not the military we left
behind. it is -- the iraqi security force needs to be rebuilt, but we have to keep perspective on who these people are, what happened to the force we left behind, and what needs to be done today. host: we did capture an early -- and isis leader earlier this month. took his wife said get information. what did we get from that? guest: i think what we got was some real strong leads based upon thumb jives, computers, and cell phones, to inform us about the financial networks that are supporting the islamic state. this is a sophisticated and professionally run financial organization. they are adept at what they do. anytime we can conduct a raid and acquire the material that gives us insight into the
people, places, and things they are doing their techniques for many relating money or other operational measures, it is of value to us. it will lead to other operations. they could be financial designations, judicial in nature or in working with partners in turkey, lebanon, or elsewhere, to go after notes supporting the islamic state. host: fallujah is a city with a population of over 300 thousand. isis took over with a force of how many? guest: we do not know in most of these areas. it -- estimates of very. i would say that within the sunni community, there is tremendous anger disenfranchisement, and frustrated -- and frustration in that has built up in the last decade and became increasingly so between 2011 and 2014. it created an environment that
insurgent groups took advantage of last summer. but we really do not know how many there are. most of the fires -- fighters are not foreign. there are some sociopaths, but the leadership is not. host: victor says all of europe was fighting in world war ii before america joined in. saying iraqis need to fight. we go to hank and virginia. independent line. caller: colonel harvey, i worked with you in 2004. i was a strategic planner. it seems to me that may be a better policy or strategic policy for the united states would be to allow iran and iraq to go out it versus isil.
guest: that is an interesting perspective. i have a draft article looking at that issue. the idea of firewalling this problem and containing it to syria and iraq and letting this burn itself out. there is a certain attractiveness to that, allowing that enemies, iran and the has states the sunni and shiite's fight it out. i do not think we have the ability to firewall it, as hank suggests. it will spill over. the results would be detrimental. one of the things we have a problem with is we have -- we are not hitting the target. we are reactive. we continually find ourselves responding six weeks too late.
responding to warnings about the attacks coming into anbar and elsewhere expressed in march of 2014 and in february of 2014. what happened was not a surprise to those watching it closely. we need to get ahead of the game. i am not sure we are doing it well. i think we're almost like a high school model u.n. in our sophistication and approaching this. host: you can go to the university of south florida website to get more information on the global initiative for a civil society and conflict. iowa, republican line, jim, goo dmorning. caller: i do not know why we do not discuss the fact that this is a result of policy.
the fbi fighting the cia. we have -- so the pipeline for gas could be run through syria. against people's wishes. we equipped the rebels in syria. trying to foment that relation -- the revolution in syria. we equipped them with arms from libya and trained in these rebels. this is all part of our policies. [indiscernible] we get a response. caller: -- guest: early in the arab spring, there was a different coalition rising up against al-assad and his regime that was considered illegitimate by the majority of sunni arabs at the time.
there is some real problems with trying to identify a moderate coalition in syria today. we did a similar thing, if you look at what happened in libya. we contributed to toppling the libyan regime. we toppled it. we left. it has been wracked with civil war. humanitarian disasters. islamic state has taken advantage. we have to be careful at looking at this issue of intervention and how we do it and make sure we do it smartly and have a plan all the way through from the beginning. that we are prepared to accept the costs and risks. that the leadership is committed to an action that is aligned with national and interests --
national interest and interests of those in the area. enforcing the execution in our agency process, giving authorities, to allow us to achieve the results necessary. if we are going to get involved in places like this. host: we are talking about iraq and syria and the isis gains. our guest is retired colonel derek harvey. ben joins us from massachusetts democrat line. caller: good morning, colonel harvey. i go back to the beginning of our nation when thomas payne talked about the efforts of police the world. even at that stage in our country's development. we do not have to rue everything that happens in the world, we do
not have to control every nation. that is a problem we have had. i am not sure whether colonel harvey, you can tell us when some of the strategies you articulated has worked. i am an old dude, i am going -- i served during korea. we have made a lot of mistakes in our attempts to determine the outcome of situations in different parts geographically. host: how would you respond? guest: the u.s. role in assisting and directing and leading the new world order that was created post-world war ii has been on net beneficial to the world economy people of the world, and the expansion of freedom and economic opportunity.
we can focus in on where the problems are and where we had failings, looking at vietnam or elsewhere. we have done a tremendously beneficial role in places. you can go from korea and east asia to europe or even north africa. our assistance aid, and support has been critical to a great number of countries. advancing people's freedoms or democracy or other kinds of government reflective of legitimate role in those areas. host:, years did you serve in the u.s. army? guest: 26. host: where did you grow up? guest: iowa where we had a caller from. a beautiful place. caller: i used to hear that people around the world. he americans were the most stupid
and uninformed people of every country on the earth. now i understand how people could solve through the lies that got us invading the middle east to begin with. mr. harvey says it does not matter how we got there. we are there now i need to look after our interests. we do need to look at why we are there. you said we were attacked on 9/11. we were not. that was a controlled demolition. guest: i do not buy into that conspiracy theory. what i think is this. we have an american political system where the interest of the u.s. play out in the political arena. we elect representatives executive leaders. we have interest groups and mobilized citizenry who take part in the political process. it is through this that we inform and get the leaders we have -- who makes the decisions
in congress and in the executive branch about what our interests are. they develop shed his use and are in charge of executing and funding them. i think we get the results from the decisions and the voting processes we have in the country. if there is a problem, we need to have citizenry more involved and participate more. that is where these issues are resolved. the ballot box. host: we have been public and certainly want president assad out of syria. does the instability by isis indirectly help? guest: i think the advances of the islamic state and the unification of a number of opposition groups fighting their , the increasing pressure of the
syrian regime, will create factions in the assad regime. the iranians have had to divert a number of their proxies out of the fight in syria in order to help stabilize the situation in iraq. very special operations command or equivalent has been orchestrating the iranian campaign from lebanon to the iran-iraq border. they directed the employment of almost 20,000 shiite militia from iraq to support president assad. almost all of those have left syria and returned to the fighting in iraq. this is stretched and undermined the security apparatus of the assad regime. there is vulnerability. the momentum is going the wrong way for a side. -- assad. host: we read in a about the isis gains this past week in the
new york times earlier. next to that, republican rivals skirting specifics on the isis fight. john is joining us from cambridge, england. this is live on the bbc parliament channel. good afternoon. caller: yes, sir. i think that what is happening in iraq is the same thing happening in syria. bashir is killing his own people. the shiites are killing the sunni people. we notice that what is happening -- nothing is happening to -- we should join isis. if you cannot beat them, join them, to destroy iran. host: we get a response. guest: i use this question to give it to a broader, can sexual
response. in the middle east, there is a conflict that i look at as being for different levels. there is a political struggle between riyadh tehran, and the persians there. then there are the jihadists -- al qaeda, islamic state, muslim brotherhood and establishment sunni islam. then there is a hot -- a fight between jihadists for leadership of the brand. we see this playing out between the islamic state and al qaeda sometimes violently. there is a grassroots level fight for power and influence and authority at the tribal and local level between shiite and sunni. as these committees are polarized. this is the objective of the islamic state. to polarize the communities so you get sick area and civil war
not just in iraq and syria. that is why he had the bombing in the easter out -- provinces. there have been other attacks elsewhere, designed to create intra-sectarian violence that can spill out over a wider region. host: our guest is the director for the global initiative on civil society and conflict. we are joined from florida democrat line. caller: good morning. one does all the killing stop? you keep saying they are a threat. when we went into iraq, they did not attack, it was the saudis. why did we go into iraq? the only way we were attacked is when we let them into our country. no one does anything about that. they common and you say we were
attacked. we should pull out completely. let them fight their own war. the only reason they attacked in the first place was because we were in their countries. can you answer that? guest: i did not bring up 9/11 or anything earlier on, but the ideology of osama bin laden and the jihadists is not just about our presence over there. they were not have struck at us in my judgment -- i have studied their writings and strategy -- they would have struck at us in the west in any event. it is part of what they are and what they believe in. it is easy to say it is because we were there or because of bases in saudi arabia or because we support israel. if israel was removed tomorrow, it would not change them under vision for a good number of these hard-core extremists driving this kind of fight. there is a threat to the
homeland. we have to make judgments about how much we want to fight over there in order to keep the right from coming here. are we willing to take the risk and absorb aperiodic terrorism strike in the u.s.? most political leaders do not want that fallout from having the enemy have a successful 9/11 again. it would be destructive politically and for american morale. we have decided to take the fight to them on the five yard line -- a football term -- rather than fight on our side of the field. that is a judgment political leaders have made. host: michael from augusta georgia -- augusta, georgia is next. democrat line. caller: some of the things people avoid talking about is that saudi arabia's religious
group -- isil and al qaeda follow that particular religion. these are sunni. that said, they are in the middle of a civil war. i think we find out that, for the most part, the iraqis that supposedly threw down their weapons and ran in fact just change unit firms, as they were sunni, and just marched act in the direction of the shia groups. host: which is what you said earlier. guest: i would say that that religious group's view from saudi arabia is different from the -- ideology of the islamic
state. the islamic state once to wipe everything out. that is why they are conducting cultural genocide in places like paul myra -and- pal -- in palmyra. it is not anything like you have with the wahhabi views out of riyadh. we need to be very precise and thinking through what this conflict is within islam between these political and violent groups and the struggle and the islamic community about the role of islam in private and public life. there is unrest there because of this debate about dealing with modernization, globalization technology, the role of women. it has exasperated civil society on multiple levels.
host: one minute left. quick question for our guest derek harvey. caller: yes. i think you said earlier that one world society has been good -- new world order is good for the u.s. and the world. i do not think so. i think what is happening here is that isis is there to make it so we go in, with our forces, take out a side -- host: we get you there -- we stop you there. is it all about assad? guest: no, but the syrian assad problem is key. there is no opportunity to do with it now because of the way it has progressed. we need to consider being more aggressive in dealing with the assad problem and striking at
isis in syria. we can only do that if we agree asadsad is a primary objective. that would bring other countries on board. it would be a coalition with the unity of purpose and strategy. it is hard to have a strategy if you cannot agree who the enemy is. that is one of the problems with the syrian dilemma. it prevents us from getting a major alliance. host: gets compensated. -- it gets complicated. guest: yes. host >> for memorial day tomorrow president obama will be at the arlington national ceremony for the annual wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknowns. we will have live coverage.
earlier on "washington journal," we asked if you thought america was taking care of veterans. here is what some of you had to say. i appreciate the conversation this morning. v.a. health care, i do get my health care from the v.a., i will tell you why. for the past 25 years, i have been a journey member plumber for take mechanical contractors. i also have the extra licenses which allow meet to go into hospitals and run nighters oxide , medical air, medical vacuum inside hospital situations. i have done work for both the v.a. and the civilian side. what i find with the v.a. is when the v.a. makes a mistake, they put it on the front page of the paper. when a civilian hospital makes a mistake, they cover it up, never to be known. what i find really shocking and
appalling is the conversation went the v.a. was not doing it up to standard, the whole conversation was on the v.a. side. there was never a with your phone calls. we will go to sarah, joining us from north carolina. caller: good morning. i just want to say that -- you say, is "america" supporting -- i think that americans should support. on the tax form, it should give you the option of supporting the troops. rather than buying yellow ribbons that we stick on the cards, made in china, we could
actually support our troops. i think that our troops went to overseas, and did not just fight for v.a. hospitals, they should get a free pass for all hospitals. our government should be able to pay for gas for minnesota. good morning to you. caller: good morning. i wanted to mention that i have nothing but compassion and comprehension for what our veterans have done to protect our way of life. i think we need to extend that compassion to all the victims of these conflicts. there is a tremendous number of young people that have been traumatized by our actions in the middle east. the same occurred in vietnam. the same occurred in korea. not to diminish for a moment
what our veterans have contributed. i do think we need to consider everybody who is affected by these debilitating com nflicts. i think we need to mechanize that a lot of these wounds are hidden worlds, they are not necessarily physical. we need to honor everything that these good people have tried to do to protect what we think of as -- the flow that there was between the city and the fort. if you listen to stories of veterans that have come back every story seems to have the same theme. when people come back and get out, they are at a loss. they do not feel the intensity that they felt as being part of an important group.
that happens to a lot of people. whether you have been a nurse a long time, something where you work in intensity, and you are needed. that is the key. we need to need our people. all of our people. why are the veterans let out so early? why can't they be kept paid, and see what they need to fix up -- paid to fix our infrastructure if they are engineers, paid to be teachers. when you lose your sense of being in a group, that is why so many would reenlist to go back. you are lost. we do not use that in any of our country to take people and use them. life is important. we have such problems.
>> you can continue the conversation online by going to facebook.com/c-span or by tweeting at the twitter handle 2 c-span-- @c-span. shortly you will hear from senator isakson who is our guest on "newsmakers." then you will hear from general martin dempsey on those who have lost children in the military. and commencement speeches from an oklahoma senator and former hulu ceo jason. >> for he today that sheds his
blood with me shall be my brother. and gentlemen in england now abed shall think themselves accursed that they were not here. >> one drop of blood drawn from th country's bosomy should agree to be more-- grieve thee more than streams of foreign gore. >> a discussion on shakespeare and how politicians use quotes. >> sometimes you have to go with the music of the words. the sound of the rhymes and the way in which as senator berg did the way that you are able to pause and linger over a long phrase and then keep going. he is using the rhythm of the
language which is something shakespeare did so beautifully so he can take english and put it into high gear at one moment and then slow down. that is something shakespeare lets you do. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern and pacific on "q&a." >> parting -- it is such a sweet sorrow. it really is. john mcardle: and on "newsmakers" this memorial day weekend, we are joined by senator johnny isakson republican of georgia. he is the chairman of the veterans affairs committee. senator, thank you for joining us this weekend. senator isakson: great to be with you. happy memorial day. john mcardle: thank you, sir. you, too. in the studio to help with the questions, we are joined by rebecca adams of cq roll call and matthew daly of the associated press. senator, i want to start with -- this weekend marks the one-year anniversary since the
resignation of former va secretary eric shinseki. in the year since that resignation, are veterans getting the care and access they need, in your opinion? senator isakson: well, in the last 12 months since he resigned, we have begun the process of reforming the v.a. to give veterans better access and better choice and to begin to deal with the systemic problems of the v.a. we have a long way to go, but we are making improvements. rebecca adams: senator, thank you for joining us. i wanted to talk to you about some comments that house speaker john boehner made on wednesday. he said that not enough has changed at the v.a. and that more people need to be fired. i know you have called secretary robert mcdonald a change agent but you also talked about the need to change the culture. what you expected secretary mcdonnell to do to change the culture and where do we go from here? senator isakson: i have personally told secretary mcdonnell that we have his back. if he needs to take action to fire people and correct things he needs to go ahead and do it and not feel lawsuits or retribution. there has been a culture in the v.a. that was a pushback culture. they really didn't want change, they didn't really want oversight, but that has got to take place. the v.a. health care is the second-largest agency of the
federal government. 314,000 employees. you have heard of too big to fail? it's almost too big to succeed. and it is really time we gave him the tools to do the hiring and firing necessary to bring about accountability in the v.a. i think that he is the man for the job. i hope you will take the initiative. rebecca adams: do you expect any additional legislation along these lines? there is a bill that is pending in congress that would expand some changes you all made last year in the veterans choice act. you made it easier to fire some veterans administration employees and there are some in congress want to expand that to a larger proportion of the v.a. workforce. what do you think the prospects are for that kind of legislation? senator isakson: we have a very aggressive and large agenda, with regards to v.a. reform, including expansion of hiring and firing. or what i like to call accountability, which is the most important mechanism that we need. so that legislation will be at our next committee meeting -- for markup and hearings is june 3. we have eight bills on there for change agents for the v.a. so you are going to see a lot of activity in the senate veterans affairs committee.
matthew daly: senator, this is matthew daly at the ap. i wanted to ask you about the -- there is a big project out at denver. they are trying to build a va hospital and it is more than $1 billion over budget, which is really hard for some folks to believe anything could be that much over budget, much less only half finished. what do you think about their problems out there? do think it symbolizes the fact that the v.a. really has trouble getting anything done? senator isakson: it is a disaster. i took the senate committee to denver. we toured the entire facility, met with the contractors reviewed the progress of the project over the last 14 years. when the press in denver asked me what i thought of the hospital, i said i thought the hospital was a camel. they said, what do you mean? i said, a camel is a horse built by committee. and that is exactly what that hospital is. there are too many cooks, not enough people in the kitchen and not enough direction. not enough accountability. the v.a. does not need to be building anything. their job is to provide health care and benefits to our veterans. one of the things we will be doing this year before the year is out, i can promise you, is
removing the authority from construction away from the v.a. and to the corps of engineers, whose job it is to build things. rebecca adams: following up on that, the senate version of the spending bill for the v.a. does include language on that, which would require the army corps of engineers to oversee these kinds of projects. so, you think that that is definitely going to become law? because there have been these concerns, and it is not just denver. it is projects in orlando, las vegas, and -- senator isakson: new orleans. rebecca adams: -- as well. that is right. senator isakson: yeah, there are four hospitals were the cost overruns are substantial. none is greatest denver, but others as much as 125% over run. and the v.a. has agreed to accept construction limits up to $250 million. i think they ought to be reduced down to about $25 million. that ought to be the threshold. anything over $25 million for construction is done by the corps, not by the veterans administration. john mcardle: and senator, does that mean that you are looking for reductions at to the v.a., specifically in the construction management side? there is 300 staffers alone in
the office of construction and facilities management. and that is just 1/3 of the office of acquisition, logistics, and construction. so are you calling for specific cuts in staffing at the v.a. from those offices? senator isakson: in the denver field hearing, i pointed out some of the money we need to meet the overruns of denver could be taken from personnel and that construction office of the v.a. because it needs to be shrunk. there are too many people in there. the v.a. doesn't need to be building that much. if the corps were doing it at cost, it could go to pay for the hospital. rather than costs that contributes to the cost of the hospital. matthew daly: do you think though, that it is too late in the game to change these rules now that the project is already half finished and there is other hospitals that have already begun as well? is it too late to kind of fix those? or is this kind of what you would like to do going forward for other projects? senator isakson: it is never too late to learn from your mistakes. and that is what we are trying to do. if the v.a. ever has another new hospital built, and that is a question in and of itself, the corps of engineers ought to build it.
the v.a. should be out of that business. that is one lesson learned from what has happened in new orleans, las vegas, orlando, and denver. so, you learn lessons from your mistakes. this is a disaster. and it is a disaster of many facets with many people responsible, but we should learn from the mistakes that were made and make sure we correct it for the future. rebecca adams: just to clarify in the short run, the the v.a. has asked to shift some money towards the denver hospital. do you think that is clearly not going to happen? what do you think will happen? senator isakson: well, as i speak now, the end solution is not quite clear, so i could -- i could quote it, but let me just say this. we realize that shutting down the progress of the hospital would be dangerous at the point we are at, but at the same token, the v.a. running on with a blank check is equally dangerous. so we are trying to extract some accountability on the denver project for an extension that goes through the end of july to keep the construction running so the v.a. itself can come up with the money they need to finish paying for the overruns out of existing appropriations. we will not -- and i underscore
not -- take any money out of veterans choice and the changes that congress made to pay for the mistakes in denver. the v.a. should find that money itself and not take it away from the veterans. rebecca adams: you mentioned the veterans choice act. that was something that passed last august and it gives veterans the ability to go outside the v.a. facilities to get private care when they need it, if they are either -- have to wait 30 days or more for an appointment or live more than 40 miles away from a v.a. facility. and you all have succeeded already in convincing the v.a. to make one change and expand the eligibility of that and the interpretation of that earlier this year. but you have talked about wanting to do more. can you give us an update on the status of the new legislation that might be in the works to try to change this program that was created last year? senator isakson: i appreciate the question. we recognize that there will be some statutory changes that need to be made and the v.a. has been agreeable and looking at the care the veterans need as being
another standard. you know, if the veteran lives within 30 or 40 miles of a v.a. facility, but that facility doesn't offer the health care he needs -- say it is for a prosthesis or burns or for an eye damage or something like that -- we think the veteran ought to be able to go to the closest private facility that can meet that treatment. it is called the care the veteran needs, not just how far they live away from the facility, but the care they need. we are going to statutorily change that when we come back in june. that is another improvement when it comes to veterans' access and the choice act. matthew daly: do you worry though, senator that if you do that, one of the reasons they put those restrictions in was because of the costs. that that could cost billions of dollars and we are already talking about billions for the denver hospital, we've got problems in the v.a., their backlog of claims, and there is all kinds of money that they could just kind of continuously spend you know, without limit. , senator isakson: the cost factor is only a short-term concern. in the macro sense for the long-term, broadening choice
will actually lower the pressure on the cost for the v.a., not to raise it. so sometimes reforms take a little bit extra money to get from point a to point b, but in the long term, if you have private sector choice, you have a force multiplier for the v.a. where they don't hire doctors they have them in the communities that are providing the service. and for the veterans, they have better care and better accessibility to their care. so in the long run, it is less expensive and better quality health care. matthew daly: well, there was another issue in terms of cost where there was a report last week about the -- the veterans employees using these cards, these corporate cards, essentially purchase cards, and making, you know, billions of dollars worth of purchases kind of off the books. and they are supposed to be for small incidentals where you can buy a veteran something that he or she needs for a couple thousand dollars or less. and this added up to billions of dollars basically unchecked. what, if anything, can congress do about that? senator isakson: i think you are referring to the $6.8 billion figure that came out of the house testimony, where procurement had run over by $6.8 billion because of the undisciplined and unbridled use of charge cards. that has been a problem in government in other areas as well.
i ran a big company in the private sector. i run a family and a household. you have rules and you have accountability to keep yourself from doing that. the v.a. needs to run itself like it runs its own family. and make sure you have parameters and accountability on the use of credit or the extension of credit or whom you give it -- the credit extended to in the first place. john mcardle: senator, you have been talking about physical health care. i want to talk about mental health care. there is a stat that is often cited. it is 22 of the america's veterans committing suicide each day in this country. what is being done on the mental health side of the v.a.? senator isakson: the first bill passed by the senate this year when we came into session in january was the clay hunt suicide prevention bill, which was a joint effort with senator blumenthal, myself, and congressman welch from minnesota in the house to expand the number of psychiatric physicians available in the v.a. expand the cooperation the v.a. gets with the private sector. and put the v.a. into a monitoring and accountability
system to see to it those at risk for themselves, those that need mental health services appointments are timely, their cases are followed, and they get the kind of psychiatric health they need. it is already making a difference. one death is too many when it comes to someone taking their own life, and we don't want to be a part of it at the v.a. john mcardle: senator, you say it is already making a difference. do we know that from the stats? or when will we know that this legislation is actually working in this country? senator isakson: well, i am one german that goes one chairman that goes to v.a. hospitals. i told you i went to denver, i have an atlanta hospital on clairmont road. leslie wiggins is the director. i go to that mental health facility often. i listen to what the veterans are telling me, i listen to what the caregivers are telling me, i listen to what the loved ones are telling me. they have seen substantial changes in the v.a. case management, in terms of mental health. i haven't -- i can't give you a statistic on the number of veterans committing suicide now versus two months ago or three months ago, but i can tell you the contributing causes, in terms of lack of care or lack of accessibility are being
corrected within the v.a. rebecca adams: in terms of other issues facing the committee, one of the things that you said you want to make a priority is women's issues and making sure that the v.a. is responsible -- responsive to the growing number of women that are veterans. i was wondering if you could stand on that and tell us more and hopefully make a little news here about what you plan to do in that area. senator isakson: well, i really appreciate the question because the unsung heroes of the modern volunteer military are the number of women who are volunteering and serving. in fact, it is estimated that by 2020, 10.5% of all veterans receiving benefits will be women. and that will only grow in the future. so, it is important we make sure that the unique physical and health services that women need are provided for in the hospitals, not as an afterthought, but as a part of the original planning. i have visited some of the v.a. hospitals facilities where the women's facility was in the basement in a room that was converted from a storage room. that is not right. it ought to be just as accessible and just as private and just as secure as some male
patient might need. that is number one. number two, we have to understand that a number of women have been victims of violent sexual trauma when in the military. that is a mental health issue. we need to make sure we identify it early, we have the services necessary to the women to see to it that they get the counseling they need, and the help that they need. so women's services are important. women volunteering for the military is the key to our military. we've got to see to it that they have service that is equal and on a parallel with everything that men get. matthew daly: senator, you mentioned earlier that the v.a. with 300,000 plus employees may be too big to succeed. do you worry that that really is true? that it is just so big and their job is so mammoth, whether it is health care, dealing with mental health, talking about homelessness, you've got all kinds of issues that they are dealing with. and they have had -- on top of that, they have had these problems about falsifying wait lists, you know, to make sure that employees get bonuses rather than veterans get health care. do you worry that it is too big a problem for secretary mcdonnell and his deputy to really succeed? because they are only two people and there is 300,000 plus who have been there, in many cases for decades.
senator isakson: well, i am an eternal optimist, and i would never say being too big to succeed as a permanent -- is a permanent affliction of the v.a. it is too big and monolithic right now to overcome the cultural difficulties they have within the organization. and that needs change. statutory change, as well as leadership changes. that is why i said we need to have bob mcdonnell's back. we need to give him the force of the congress behind him to make sure he does the accountability mechanisms necessary to get the v.a. accountable. but please understand this. and i want to underscore this. we have some of the finest physicians and health care services, paraprofessionals, and technicians in the world. the v.a. health care. our problem is more in the administration, accountability and accounting level of the v.a. than it is the delivery of the health services. that is where the problems come from for appointments. that is where the problems came from the weight lists. that is where the problems came for phoenix, and that is where the problems need to be corrected. so, while the v.a. has a
systemic problems and cultural problems, they are correctable with the director and the secretary of the v.a. having our backing in congress and as having the will to see to it that he has the enforcement mechanism he needs to do the job. john mcardle: so, senator, it is not necessarily a problem that will be corrected with more money being given to this problem. senator isakson: well, i am glad you mentioned that. i could stand to be corrected on this number, but i think i am right. v.a. funding over the last decade has been increased by 74%. we have had sequestration on everybody else. we went to biannual budgeting on v.a. to ensure continuity of funding for v.a. health care. funding is not the problem. it is the accountability for the use of the funding, the management of the services paid for by the funding, and the cultural deficiencies within the v.a. that is the problem. they don't have a money problem they have a management problem. rebecca adams: what do you account for in terms of discussions about the budget? what we saw in the house when it passed the funding bill for the v.a. back in april was a surprising shift. usually, that is very bipartisan, everybody votes for it. this year, the administration took a different tact. they said that there is not
enough money in the v.a. spending bill and republicans were put a little bit on the defensive. so, what do you expect going for -- forward to happen in the debate over v.a. funding? senator isakson: well, anybody who thinks funding will solve the v.a.'s problems is just wrong because, as i said, the funding is not the problem. they have had the amount of money they've needed to do the job. they haven't had the cultural clarity within the organization, or the leadership within the organization, to carry the job out. so, anybody that wants to attack the v.a. by just saying if they had more money, they would solve the problem -- we have a hospital in denver that is 47% finished and is $1,200,000,000 over budget. obviously, money is the problem there because they are spending way too much, but they aren't building a hospital. they are building a problem. we need accountability within the v.a., not more money. matthew daly: do you have confidence that secretary mcdonnell understands that? there has been criticism from speaker boehner, from chairman miller, who is your counterpart in the house veterans affairs committee, jeff miller of florida who has said, look, just not enough people have been fired flat out. that we, the v.a., needs to sort
of clean house because you can't go forward with people who are part of the problem. senator isakson: well, the first part of your question is secretary mcdonnell, and let me be as clear as i can. i have been very impressed with secretary mcdonnell. his history shows that he has the ability to manage a large corporation dealing in health services. he has the heart for it. he served in the american military. i think he can do a good job. he needs us to give him the wind wind at his back to do that job. and he needs to have the courage to exercise the very difficult decisions that need to be made at the v.a. but i think bobby mcdonnell can do it and i hope he can take this crisis that we are having in denver and use it as a benchmark to the future operations of the v.a. rather than a problem we continue to perpetuate in the v.a. mcdonnell is the right man for the job, if he is willing to take the reins and if we are willing to give him the backing that he needs. john mcardle: senator, how much time does he have to to show that he is willing to take the reins, if you can show him that he has the backing that he needs? senator isakson: well, he's -- there is a lot of things that are indicative to me that he has taken the initiative to do so. he has tried to remove a lot of
people from jobs and responsibilities they weren't doing the job, but because of limitations, he couldn't fire them, he could only transfer them. he did successfully fire, and it was upheld in court, one of the arizona folks who was fired over the wait scandal and the wait times scandal in arizona; although, the firing was upheld because they had done a mismanagement of funds, not because of the job that they did. bob is trying and we need to give him the tools so that when he tries, he is effective and does it. rebecca adams: and, senator, as you move forward, do you think that all of this will require a lot more in terms of what congress provides through authorizing legislation? or do you think that there will be additional appropriations riders that deal with some of these issues? or do you think that this is something that can be done just through execution and through management of the v.a.? senator isakson: that is a great question. i think we have already demonstrated with the v.a.'s willingness to make the adjustments to the rule they did on the 40 mile rule and what were about to on the rule on veterans care that is needed rule.
they are willing to cooperate with us on the direction the v.a. goes, in terms of the services offered. so i doubt that you will see a lot of forced management through budget riders or appropriation riders and things of that nature. hopefully, we will have more cooperation between the authorizing committees and the appropriating committees to see to it that money is being directed in the appropriate direction. you know, in reality -- and i put this out there, this is not breaking news, but i don't think it has been said before -- we recognize that if veterans choice works, the additional money appropriated to carry that program out over three years will probably not be enough to carry it out. but if the experiment we are going through now on veterans choice works, as i think it will and i think most of the house and senate think it will, we will have a force multiplier that, over time, will lower the financial pressure on the v.a. health services and delivery. so we are in the middle of an experiment, but not an experiment that is a health -- but not an experiment that is a helter-skelter experiment, but
an experiment that i think will address the needs of the v.a. and our veterans in the years to come. veterans choice is a great opportunity for the v.a. to expand its workforce and expand its access to health care for veterans without building facilities or hiring more doctors. rebecca adams: senator, let me just follow up on that. one of the changes that you talked about earlier in expanding veterans choice would cost -- secretary mcdonnell estimated earlier, about $10 billion per year. this is the change you want to make from -- to allow veterans who are not getting the care that they need at the facility near them to go to private medical care. that money has to be paid for an offset, i would assume. do you believe that if you pass that that it would need to be offset? . and where would you find the money to do that? senator isakson: well, first of all, the money is being paid to a veteran for health care for someone who risked their life for you and i to live in the freest land in the world. there should be no equivocation on whether or not that veteran gets his benefit. and if that benefit is expensive, we need to find the money to do so. so, i don't -- i don't think that is going to be a problem. we can't shortchange somebody who risked their life for you
and i. we need to make sure they get the benefits that we passed and promised them. we also need to make sure that we can deliver the benefits that we promised in the future. so every means test should be used to test future benefits and the expansion of cost. there should never be in equivocation on giving a veteran the services they have earned, they fought for, and they risked their life for. matthew daly: there are some veterans groups that have been saying that some of the changes that are being made in terms of the choice act at -- you know -- pushing private care is kind of a backdoor way to privatize the v.a. i know that you have said that is not what is going on, but can you just address those concerns? because they continue to happen from veterans groups, and also individual veterans who call us, saying they are worried that the v.a. itself will be privatized. senator isakson: we have no intention, nor is there any plan, nor is it practical, to privatize the v.a. on the other hand, it is impractical to continue to expand the v.a. in its current form. what we need to do is what we have done in all kinds of benefits in the country, and that is use the privatization of it for access to private sector
services that, a, is a force multiplier and, b, is a savings. remember this. every time an american veteran has, through choice, goes to a medicare approved doctor for services rather than a v.a. hospital, that is one less the v.a. cost to have to service that veteran. so, although it costs you for him to go to the private sector, it saves you because he is not using the v.a. facility. so, there are savings and offsets in here that make it very practical to do. so i -- i say all the vso's -- and not all the vso's are against choice, but some of them are. don't put your head in the sand, don't look the other way, don't think somebody is trying to privatize the v.a. health system. we are not trying to do that. what we are trying to do is modernize it, make it accessible, make it accountable, and make it fundable for the american people. we owe our veterans everything. however we are going to deliver it, we've got to deliver it. rebecca adams: v.a. officials, though, have said they want to take a look at all of the private medical care that they are paying for and they want to reconsider how that is paid for, they want to put it all into one funding stream rather than
different programs, they want to completely rethink the future of private medical care paid for by the v.a. so, if you are looking out 10 years from now, how much of the care that veterans get do you think will be paid for by the v.a. but provided by doctors similar to the way medicare does it? or how much of it will be continue to be provided in v.a. facilities? senator isakson: well, i don't -- i am not smart enough to look out 10 years and tell you what a number is going to be. i am smart enough to tell you that what we did in terms of veterans choice is going to work. as long as the v.a. doesn't fold its arms and try to make it fail. we've got a job to do to see to it that it works, and i think that it will. i can't predict what the split will be, but i will tell you this. tricare works great. my mother and father-in-law have been on tricare for years, a navy veteran and his wife. tricare is a great combination of benefits promised by the veterans administration and the united states government to a navy volunteer, and private sector delivery of those services.
it is a merger of medicare and v.a. health care to form tricare. so, tricare works. if tri-care can work, veterans choice can work equally as well. john mcardle: senator, we have just a minute or two left. you are just looking to the future. i was wondering if you could look backwards into the past. we just passed the 40th anniversary of the fall of saigon. i wonder if you could talk about the legacy of the vietnam war on how we treat veterans in this country and how its influence -- influenced how you run your committee in congress. senator isakson: well, i am a product of the vietnam era. that is my age group. and i lost some of my best friends in vietnam. i remember the sacrifice and the tragedy our country went through. one of the reasons the v.a. is so loved by our veterans is vietnam-era veterans found the v.a. the only safe haven they could go to. they had to get off their planes when they came back from vietnam in civilian clothes because the war was hated so badly. we owe those veterans everything. they sacrificed, they risked their lives, they fought in a horrible war in southeast asia. we need to make sure in the latter years of their lives they
are getting the care they deserve. one note to take place on the suicide rate, the number of suicide increases is not in veteran -- afghan and iraqi veterans, it is in the vietnam-era veterans. those over 60 years old. so we owe those veterans just as much equally as the afghan and iraqi and world war ii veterans. i'm going to see to it that they get it. john mcardle: senator johnny isakson is a republican from georgia. he is the chairman of the senate veterans affairs committee. thank you, sir, for being our newsmaker this week. senator isakson: thank you very much. have a great weekend. john mcardle: you, too, sir. matthew daly: thank you, senator. rebecca adams: thank you. john mcardle: and we turn right to our roundtable. we are continuing with rebecca adams of cq roll call. matthew daly of the associated press. i want to start with v.a. secretary mcdonnell. we heard senator isakson say repeatedly that he is the right man for the job, that we need to have congress' back. how does congress, as a whole, not just senator isakson, view secretary mcdonnell? matthew daly: i think there is some suspicion about him.
i think they really worry that he hasn't done enough to promote the choice program. the choice program kind of came out of the law that was passed last year in the wake of the phoenix scandal about wait times. and they really have had very low sign-ups for it. congress has been continuously pushing them to have better sign-ups with the whole 40 mile rule thing. they basically were saying that they were measuring on a map that if you draw it as the crow flies to 40 miles, and people were driving, so they said, we can't do it. so now to have opened it up so that if you drive 40 miles, you can use this private care. so that has been one way to have -- way they have opened it up, but there has been some suspicion. plus, they are worried that, i think, for them, firing people means you are taking action. you could argue whether that is a simplistic logic or not, but there is a lot of questioning of whether he really does want to do enough to change the culture. kind of send a message, hey, it is not business as usual. rebecca adams: i would agree. i think that there are many who like his private sector experience. he is the former ceo and president of procter & gamble.
so some republicans like that. but they do have some concerns about the v.a. in general, and in a large part about its bureaucracy and how it is operating and how it is responding to veterans' needs. john mcardle: you both asked the senator, the chairman, about this denver hospital. is this becoming a symbol of the v.a. and one that the v.a. doesn't want? matthew daly: i think that is exactly what it is becoming because it is such a huge project. it is hard to imagine that a hospital costs as much as $1 billion in the first place. this is actually almost $1.8 billion, and that's more than $1 billion than they said it would cost. you just wonder where did all that money go to? it is only half built. there is all kinds of reasons for why it happened. basically, it was a previous administration and now they have the person who was in charge of that has sort of retired, fired, i would say. another thing where they allowed that person to retire with full benefits.
and the veterans administration's come back to that is, we can't take away that person's benefits. john mcardle: rebecca adams, what are you hearing from the senator? rebecca adams: i thought it was interesting that he said of we promise you we are going to get the army corps of engineers involved. people do not believe the veterans administration is up to the job. if you look at the spending bills that are circulating out there in congress, they said we are not going to provide money -- additional money for these kinds of projects. the senate version has more money for military construction but i think there is a lot of , concern. and you don't even hear a lot of democrats defending things like the denver project. it's something that a lot of people -- and v.a. secretary mcdonnell has set himself -- that there are major problems there. john mcardle: senator isakson saying that money is not a problem at the v.a. what is the v.a. saying?
matthew daly: i think they think that it is the problem. that they need more funding. and they do worry about this whole choice program, how it could exponentially increase costs. because when some of the private care does cost more than the -- because you already have the structure set up at the v.a. hospital, you have to pay those doctors anyway. so the care increases exponentially as you allow more and more people to do it. but from congress' point of view, we have these people who put their lives on the line. we have to take care of them. john mcardle: what is the expectation for the program in and the funding side? rebecca adams: i think it will be interesting to see what they do in terms of authorizing changes to that program. and if they do put forth legislation to a cup some of the things that he mentioned, then that would cost money -- to accomplish some of the things that he mentioned, then that would cost money. v.a. officials what to change that a bit to say that if there is any kind of problem, then people can go to private care. so, all of that is something to watch.
i do think it is interesting in general, just taking a step back, and looking at how the tone around spending for veterans has changed. and both sides, both republicans and democrats, are trying to show that they are supportive of veterans and that they are really doing all that they can to support veterans in the wake of the scandal that we saw last year in phoenix. and the administration came out and even though the military construction in the spending bill that just passed in the house -- it provides more money than last year -- the administration is saying that there is not about money and there is this feeling that they are trying to show that the republicans perhaps are not doing all that they can.
matthew daly: one thing i would say is that in the wake of the scandal in general, veterans' issues have become much more high profile. i think a lot of the stuff went on for years under the radar until the whole phoenix scandal broke. and basically the retired doctor said that veterans were dying while they are on the waiting list. as many problems as we talked about on this program, at least they are addressing and they are much more out in the open now. people are discussing what needs to be done and the fact that you can't do this on the cheap. john mcardle: that is all the time we have for our "newsmakers" program for this memorial day weekend. i would like to thank rebecca adams and matthew daly. >> monday night on the communicators, acting executive director of first annette on the creation of one nationwide run
broadband communication network for first responders. >> police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, responding to that incident on the scene of that incident, in the future, when the network is up and running, it has the ability to have video of things on the scene center in coming responders, pictures of the scene, to be able to have important situational awareness data on where everybody is on that particular scene. today, not everybody would have the ability to see where the other and lenses are staged, a mass casualty situation would be a vote to prepare for triage. you could go so far to think of technology today like were herbal technology in the fitness world, what if that was done for emergency medical services with a good place out on a patient of deal to get vital signs as an example, not necessarily with the devices today, but think of the innovation that can happen.
it would know where all your patients are coming you would go to track the current vital signs , and he listened them to hospitals and track them there and make sure they are handed off and that there is continuity of care and they would be able to adjust to a changing situation in a very rapid fashion. >> monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on the communicators on c-span2. >> this summer, book tv will cover book festivals around the country and top nonfiction authors and books. next week, live it books expo america new york city for the publishing industry showcase. in the beginning of june, we're live from the chicago tribune literature fest, including our three hour and a wright and your phone calls. neither the end of june, watch for the annual roosevelt reading festival. in the middle of july, we're live in the harlem book fair the nations flagship african-american literary event. at the beginning of september,
we are live from the nations capital for the national book festival, celebrating its 15th year. that's a few of the events this summer on c-span2's book tv. >> joint chiefs of staff general martin density as he took questions from children involved with the program and sang songs. the event brings together those who have lost loved ones while serving in the military. this is 25 minutes. >> i am so excited to be here with all of my friends. i feel so happy because people know how i feel and we learn ways to do with our grief. it's not always easy, but we are able to be stronger because of our family.
today, i am proud to introduce someone we love a lot. he is the chairman of the 20's of staff. he is a very important soldier. general dempsey always has time for us. he remembers our families. he hugs us and sings with us. he has a great voice. i love hearing him sing. [laughter] please welcome my friend general dempsey. [applause] general dempsey: keep your seats. thanks. it is great to be back. how many of you were there last year? how many mentors were here last year? if you want to know what inspires me, it is these youngsters here who have lost a loved one and are here to bond with each other, and try to
figure it out and become friends . that is always inspirational. i am proud of those of you who volunteer as mentors. how about you give everybody a round of applause. [applause] ok. i have been doing this for four years and i have a pattern. i can't break it. i am a creature of habit. the first thing i always do is i always take a few questions from the audience. not from the mentors, by the way. i can deal with you separately. [laughter] but i would take any of the children that have -- any of you have a question for me? here is one over here. ok, young man go ahead and stand , up for me. i will get you. you can put your arm down. i don't want the blood to run to your head. >> how long did it take you to get all your ranks?
[laughter] general dempsey: how old are you? 11 years old? unfortunately it took me four , times 11. i have been in the army for 41 years. [applause] my wife has been with me for 39 of those years. [applause] i have loved putting on the uniform every day. thank you for asking that question. who else? this guy back here is about to pass out on me. [laughter] here you go. >> ok. um, it is a comment.
him right over there, the one taking pictures he said today , was flex friday and told me to tell you to flex. [laughter] [applause] general dempsey: all right. you know the bad thing about that is that will be on twitter or youtube. that is the problem. instagram. >> can you please do my math homework? [laughter] general dempsey: i didn't like it then and i don't like it now. he wanted me to do his math homework. that is not happening. >> why did you join the army? general dempsey: why did i join the army? what a great question.
i saw you in the hall, didn't i? how many of you have seen big hero 6? how many of you mentors had to borrow a kid to go see it. i know how it goes. i do that with my grandkids. i would like to see the lego movie. let's call up one of the grandkids and talk them into it. why did i join the army? that is a great question. i joined it for one reason and i stayed in for another. i joined it because i had a feeling i wanted to challenge myself and it made sense to me to try to challenge myself in organization that had a set of values, like discipline and courage, and selfless service. that is why i joined. i stayed for 41 years because of the people. to be honest with you. and so what happens is you join
for one reason but you decide to stay or go for another. i just happened to decide to stay. what else? let me go back here. ok. you have been very patient. here you go. by the way i haven't had a , question from a young lady yet. it is all guys. by the way nice mask. >> what is your favorite thing? general dempsey: my favorite thing? coming to taps every memorial day. >> why do you come here every year? general dempsey: i came here the first time because i thought that i would try to give something to you, and that that would be my love and support. but i come back because of what i take away from it.
what i take away from it is an incredible feeling of hope on this and a love that -- when i work i don't get many standing , ovations in washington dc. i almost decided to walk out and come back again just to feel it again. [laughter] i'm kidding about that point but i come back because it is one of the places where you can give and receive an extraordinarily meaningful ways. i see you over there. try not to get emotional. when your heart is in your throat it is hard to sing. >> how long have you been singing? general dempsey: singing well or singing? i was raised, my mom and dad both worked. my irish grandmother would raise me. she was my babysitter until i went to school. she was convinced i should learn how to sing every irish song
ever written. by the age of five years old, i could actually knock out quite a few. then what i realized as i got more rank is that singing helped me show people i am just a normal person who loves music, and specifically sharing it with you. but this group right here, who you will hear in a moment, they are really talented artists. what i have learned over time is to take my mediocre talent and blend them with their great talents, and we sound pretty good actually. i think you -- did you have a question? just scratching your head? yes? i hope you are ready for the green alligator. it is coming. here you go. >> before you were a general high ranking, which you rather wear your fancy uniform or your regular uniform?
general dempsey: this is a pretty fancy uniform. i'll give you that. are you asking do i like to wear this one better than the other? you know i don't think so. , i wear this because i live and work in washington, and everyone in washington, d.c. dresses in a suit or a formal uniform. as a gesture of respect for each other. but i would rather be in a more -- a uniform with greater utility. this is not something to be flexing with, for example. [laughter] what else? i'm about to take this jacket off. come on over here. i have two more. you come on over and you come up. because you are just too cute to deny. [laughter] there are three of them.
ok, why don't you go first? >> why do you want to protect people? general dempsey: why do i want to protect the people? we are not the only ones who protect people. there are firemen and policemen. all of them serve their fellow citizens. i think i decided to do that because it was a way, this is a cool country. right? i also think that we have a lot of blessings. i thought that i could give back in some way for those blessings. what is your question? >> [indiscernible] general dempsey: what kind of homework? >> reading homework. general dempsey: i can't read. i give a lot of orders but i don't read them. general dempsey: i think the volume free her out.
e freaked her out. ok. we have one more young lady. don't be scared. it is a lot of noise. here you go. >> who inspired you to join the army? general dempsey: i think, i didn't have a family background in the military but my mom and dad always thought that i should challenge myself. so when i got accepted to west point i actually didn't want to go at all. my mother, i went home to talk to her about it. some of you in the audience can relate to this. she really wanted me to go to west point. i kept fighting it off, and finally she burst into tears. i said i can't do that to my mother. so here i am 44 years later. so be careful of your mothers. >> what day where you were born? general dempsey: i was born on a friday. thank you for asking.
ok here is what we will do. the 14th of march 1952. is she ok? i think we had a meeting engagement with a camera. we are going to sing a song. my wife will come up here. they are veterans of this. you have a little background thing? it's the green alligator? we will do it a cappella. you have to do it with the emotions. if i look out there and you are not doing the motions i will , come and get you. or one of them well. you see those people out there? they are not as nice as they look. it is a song. i need water first. it's like noah and the ark and it is really cool. are you ready to go? >> ♪ a long time ago when the earth was green, there were more animals than you've ever seen
they would run around free when the earth was being born. and the loveliest of all was unicorn. hey, brother know i will tell you what to do build me a floating zoo get the green alligators and long neck geese get some cats and rats and elephants as sure as you are born there was the unicorn noah was there to answer the call he marched in the animals two by two and he named them as they came through. i've got your green alligators and longnecked geese i've got cats, and rats, and elephants i just can't find them unicorns. so noah looked out in the rain. the unicorns were hiding laughing and splashing as the rain came pouring,
green alligators there were cats and rats and elephants they just can't find those unicorns noah looked out the ark started drifting. those unicorns looked at from the rocks and they cried you guys do that really well. and then the rain came down and floated them away. green alligators, and chimpanzees cats, and rats, and elephants as soon as you're born you're never going to see unicorns ♪ ♪ [applause]
>> we have a treat. people who can sing and play instrument's are going to join me. we took songs from disney. threei know that some of you have a little engagement later with a big hero six event. is that right? part of that will be that in the middle. a song that is familiar to you from frozen. and the important line and that one is "for the first time in forever you are not alone." look around the room. you are not alone.
i'm going to start it with one that will be familiar to you. ♪ >> ♪ you've got a friend in me you've got a friend in me when the road looks rough ahead and you are . miles and miles from your nice warm bed remember what your old pal said you've got a friend in me you've got a friend in me you've got a friend in me you got a friend in me.
you've got trouble, i've got to twooo there isn't anything i wouldn't do for you we stick together and we'll see it through you've got a friend in me you've got a friend in me for the first time in forever for the first time in forever for the first time in forever i won't be alone nothing to lose, everything is all right i remember the day here i am here i am on my own top of the world,
>> on the next washington journal we discussed veterans issues such as employment, suicide, and mental health. and former cbs and nbc reporter and his daughter talk about their book, haunting legacy, vietnam and the american presidency from ford to obama. as always, we will take your calls. you could join the conversations on facebook and twitter. washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. on c-span. >> next, a look at some of the
commencement speeches from around the country. first governor nikki haley. then to speeches from oklahoma state university, beginning with senator james lankford, and ambassador joseph westphal. then jason kilar space to graduates of the university of north carolina. >> south carolina governor nikki haley delivered this year's commencement address to graduate at the university of south carolina. governor haley is currently in her second term. she is the 116th governor of south carolina and the first woman to serve in that role. her speech is 15 minutes. [applause]
ms. haley: i want to thank the board. as daughter of indian parents, i want to say if you know in the indian community, your parents they raise you and want you to be one of three things, doctor a lawyer or an engineer. i can tell them i made it, i am a doctor. thank you very much. i'm incredibly honored. to the president members of the , faculty and staff, trustees, families, friends and most of all to the distinguished members of the university of south carolina's classic 2015, let me say this, it is a great day in south carolina. [applause] ms. haley: i say that often. it's true. the wonderful thing about our state at this time is that each day brings with it a different reason to celebrate. it is something i never take for granted. something we should all be proud of. but today, today is different.
mark twain once said that "there are basically two types of people, people who accomplish things and people who claim to have accomplish things. the first group is less crowded." because of the people filling this arena, your dedication, your sacrifice, your talent, we have made mr. twain's first group more crowded. to the faculty sitting around me let me say thank you for , shepherding through this wonderful university the next generation of south carolina's leaders. thank you for being a tutor, a mentor, a friend. the great american poet and educator robert frost said, "i am not a teacher but and awaken er." you have awakened in young minds and ability to achieve and a
capacity to lead. today is your celebration too. make no mistake, earning a degree from such a prestigious university is an act of great consequence. you'll hear from graduates today but you will hear it from me as well. they could not have done this without you. the support of family means everything. to the graduates, the class of 2015, from this proud clemson tiger, i say congratulations. [boos] i knew you're going to boo me on that one. for the last few years, you've called the university of south carolina your home.